American- Style Café in Saddle River Takes Healthy Eating Up a Notch
When the Saddle River Inn’s chef and owner, Jamie Knott, set out to open a new place last summer, he wanted it to be an alternative dining option for his faithful followers, offering healthy, clean and sustainable food, and he wanted it to be close to the Inn. Just how close turned out to be a pleasant surprise: It is almost literally in their backyard.
“I drove by this space every day for nearly three years before I realized it was actually the perfect spot for my newest venture, the Saddle River Café,” Jamie says.
And making it American-style, casual and eco-friendly meant everything to him.
“Around here, we have an educated clientele who cares about the environment and what they’re putting into their bodies, and many of them have the money to spend a little more on healthy and sustainable options,” he says.
Green-certified by the Green Restaurant Association, the café has met required standards in categories such as waste reduction and recycling, sustainable foods and water efficiency as well as reusable and environmentally preferable disposables.
“This was important to us, to our mission for the café,” Jamie says. “As much as possible, we use food that is locally sourced. For example, a lot of our vegetables come from Harvest Drop, which picks and delivers fresh produce in just two days from when we place an order. Our eggs are also organic and three-day farm-fresh.”
When it came time to pick a chef for the café, once again, Jamie didn’t have to look far.
“Josh Means was with me from the beginning at the Saddle River Inn. He’s a creative and talented cook and the first person I thought of when the Café was in its planning stages,” he says.
Open for brunch and dinner, among the most requested offerings are the spinach and mushroom omelet with roasted shallots, herbed cream cheese and chives and the lobster omelet, a favorite of Jamie’s. The açai blend bowls, organic pressed juices, smoothies and Devocion coffee are also brunch favorites. For dinner, mussels and fries, the Bronzino fillet fish and shrimp risotto are just a few of the can’t-miss menu choices.
They’ve taken the eco-friendly concept to the next level by replacing plastic straws with paper ones, using biodegradable take-out containers, offering fully insulated paper coffee cups that don’t need sleeves and bottling all of their own water to avoid recycling plastic containers. Even the atmosphere and physical space of the café incorporates the earthy and calming scene Jamie wanted to create, with warm shades of blue and green throughout.
“It’s a bright and airy space with more than 120 succulents and plants within 1,000 square feet,” he says. “So the air quality is good, the vibe is good, it feels alive,” he says. “We’re really just trying to minimize our carbon footprint,” he adds. “We’re trying to be aware of what’s going to happen in the next 10, 20 or 50 years environmentally. It’s a conversation we have to have now so we’re not too far gone and having to play catch-up. It’s really pretty simple.”
The feedback has been tremendous, he says, not only for his greening efforts but also for the food.
“In the end, only one thing matters. The food has to be delicious, or none of this is worth it. I’ve always said, ‘life is short; eat well.’”
Saddle River Café, 171 E. Saddle River Road, Saddle River, 201.282.2300, SaddleRiverCafe.com
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“We have an educated clientele who cares about the environment and what they’re putting into their bodies”
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“We’re trying to minimize our carbon footprint. We’re trying to be aware of what’s going to happen in the next 10, 20 or 50 years environmentally.”